A day after being suspended in NCAA, referee Ballecer tasked to officiate crucial UAAP match
Referee Menard Ballecer called the Ateneo-NU game in the UAAP on Wednesday afternoon, a day after being suspended in the NCAA for the brawl that marred the EAC-Mapua match. Jerome Ascano

A DAY after being suspended indefinitely in the NCAA, referee Menard Ballecer was tasked to officiate the crucial UAAP Final Four game between Ateneo and National University on Wednesday afternoon.

Ballecer, a former PBA referee, was one of the three referees who came under fire after an NCAA game between the Mapua Cardinals and the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals ended in a bench-clearing brawl on Monday night.

One day later, Ballecer and fellow referees Cholo Caoile and Molly de Luna were suspended indefinitely and fined an undisclosed amount by the league's management committee on the recommendation of commissioner Bai Cristobal.

The veteran referee, however, wasn't inactive for long as he was tapped to officiate the Final Four game between Ateneo and NU on Wednesday, which the Bulldogs won, 78-74, to forge a sudden-death match on Wednesday for a place in the UAAP Finals.

Both the UAAP and NCAA have tapped referees from the Basketball Referees Association for Schools, Colleges, and Universities (Brascu) headed by former national coach Joe Lipa and former PBA referees supervisor Romy Guevarra to officiate their games this season.

[See Jao's first order of business is to replace SBP referees with Lipa's pool]

Sought for comment after the game, Ballecer said no rules were broken since the UAAP and NCAA are two different leagues, although netizens were quick to question the propriety of appointing a recently suspended referee to officiate a game of such magnitude.

"It's a different league naman so okay lang (to officiate)," Ballecer told Spin.ph.

For his part, UAAP commissioner Andy Jao, refused to answer questions thrown at him by Spin.ph after the game, throwing two hands up in the air as he walked out of the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"I will not answer any questions," said Jao.

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